1904 Manhasset Bay Yacht Club Decoration Day Regatta

The First American Auto-Boat Contest

Fast Time by Auto Boats
The First American Auto-Boat Contest
Auto Boat Measurement
Annual Race of the American Power-Boat Association
Japansky Wins "Auto" Boat Race in Fast Time

Auto-boat racing made its first bid for public favor on Decoration Day. The event was held under the auspices of the Manhasset Bay Yacht Club of Port Washington, L.I. Of the strictly auto class there were four starters, and in addition there were eight other power boats of different sizes and speeds. While the number of competitors fell below expectations, the result demonstrated the fact that auto-boat racing is destined to hereafter occupy an important place in the list of national sports.

The four auto-boats were divided into two classes. In Class R, for boats from 70 to 80 feet, the only entry was the Japansky, a handsome white boat of 40.99 horse-power and a racing rating of 70.65 feet. Her waterline measurement was 38 feet, 11 inches. The Gas Engine and Power Company and Seabury & Co., of Morris Heights, N.Y. are responsible for both hull and engine. Her owner is F.H. Waldorf. This boat easily carried off the honors of the day, traveling over a course of 19 knots in 1 hour, 6 min., and 29 sec., or at the rate of 17.6 knots or 20.3 miles per hour.

The next class of boats over 60 and not over 70 feet, had two starters, the Fiat No.2, C.H. Tangeman owner, with a Fiat engine of 35.17 horse-power, racing rating of 65.05 feet, and a waterline length of 22.88 feet; and the Shooting Star, H.A. Lozier owner, fitted with a Lozier engine of 24.30 horse-power and 62.06 rating. The Panhard boat, although in a lower class, was moved up to compete with the first two. The latter's dimensions were: engine 18.71 horse-power, rating 54.52 feet. A. Massanet is the Panhard's owner. Two other auto-boats that were on hand but did not start were the Standard, of 86.5 rating, and W.K. Vanderbilt Jr.'s Hard Boiled Egg, of 69.15 rating. The motive power of the latter is a Mors engine taken from one of Mr. Vanderbilt's cars. Both the Standard and Hard Boiled Egg in short dashes before the racing began, showed remarkable speed and ability, and gave promise of exciting sport when keyed up for a contest. Unfortunately, the Standard had one of her screws disabled, and the Vanderbilt entry damaged her rudder while making a quick turn to avoid a collision. In the race itself the Shooting Star did not finish.

The Miss Swift, the only entry in Class H, for open boats, did good work. Fitted with a Buffalo engine of 26.09 horse-power, she covered the course in 1:29:57. A peculiar feature of Fiat No.2 was a gun-like conning tower, shown in the illustration accompanying this article. The helmsman looking through the long tube steers his boat, while at the same time is protected from the spray thrown up by the sharp bow.

Outside of the strictly auto class there was a fair showing. The Allure, fitted with a Craig engine of 58.90 horse-power; the Ardis, with a Buffalo engine of 10.81 horse-power; the Flash with a Buffalo engine of 16.22 horse-power; the Javelin with a Standard engine of 16.36 horse-power, and the Queen Bess, with a Standard of 27.14 horse-power, started over the full course. A shorter course of 9 knots was covered by the Nada, with a Giant engine of 3.03 horse-power, and the 999, with a Sterling engine of 4.26 horse-power.

To those who had not seen auto-boats perform, a surprising feature was the facility with which they were handled. The boats were easily controlled, being started and stopped quickly and turning readily in a comparatively small space. To the uninitiated, the way in which these craft were sent dashing around the crowded harbor seemed the height of recklessness, and reminded one strongly of automobile race meets. While the day passed off without serious accident, it is apparent that in future races a stricter enforcement of reasonable rules must be insisted upon.

(Transcribed from Scientific American, June 11, 1904. p. 456. )

[Thanks to Greg Calkins for help in preparing this page --LF]

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Leslie Field, 2001